NEW YORK, Nov. 29, 2016 – The WNBA will tip off its 21st season on Saturday, May 13, 2017, with three games, highlighted by the defending WNBA champion Los Angeles Sparks hosting the Seattle Storm at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN. Los Angeles, led by 2016 WNBA regular-season MVP Nneka Ogwumike and Finals MVP Candace Parker, will receive its championship rings in a pregame ceremony, while Seattle will feature nine-time All-Star selection Sue Bird and reigning WNBA Rookie of the Year Breanna Stewart.
In the other opening-day matchups, the New York Liberty, led by former league MVP Tina Charles, will host the San Antonio Stars, owners of the top pick in WNBA Draft 2017 presented by State Farm (3 p.m. ET); and two-time WNBA scoring leader Angel McCoughtry and the Atlanta Dream will visit All-Stars Chiney Ogwumike and Alex Bentley and the Connecticut Sun (7 p.m. ET).
WNBA Tip-Off 2017 presented by Verizon will consist of 16 games over nine days (May 13-21), showcasing the home opener of every team.
Throughout the 2017 season, ESPN’s family of networks will air up to 29 games, including every game of the WNBA Playoffs and WNBA Finals presented by Verizon. All ESPN telecasts will also be streamed live on WatchESPN and the ESPN app. NBA TV will televise more than 40 games during the regular season. The network’s schedule will be announced at a later date.
Defending champion Los Angeles will appear on four ESPN/ESPN2 telecasts, while Stewart and the Storm as well as the three-time champion Minnesota Lynx will make three appearances each. The Chicago Sky and Phoenix Mercury will appear twice each.
In addition, WNBA LEAGUE PASS will provide online and mobile viewing of live and archived WNBA games for the entire season with enhanced options such as multiple-game viewing and DVR functionality as well as box-score and play-by-play overlays.
Highlights of the ESPN/ESPN2 regular-season telecast schedule for 2017 include:
- Eight of ESPN/ESPN2’s nine regular-season telecasts will feature at least one winner of the WNBA Most Valuable Player Award. Four of those telecasts will be highlighted by head-to-head matchups of league MVPs, including Minnesota’s Maya Moore (2014) and New York’s Charles (2012) on May 18 and the Chicago Sky’s Elena Delle Donne (2015) and the Los Angeles duo of Parker (2008 and 2013) and Nneka Ogwumike (2016) on June 6. Parker, Ogwumike and the Sparks also will visit Moore and the Lynx on July 6 and face Diana Taurasi (2009) and the Phoenix Mercury on Aug. 24.
- Six ESPN/ESPN2 telecasts will include a WNBA championship team from the past six seasons, highlighted by a rematch of WNBA Finals 2016 participants Los Angeles and Minnesota when the Sparks visit the Lynx on July 6.
- All nine ESPN/ESPN2 games will feature a former No. 1 overall pick, including six games with former top picks going head-to-head.
Every ESPN/ESPN2 telecast will feature multiple Olympic gold-medal winners.